An Arkansas hunter was killed Tuesday by a deer he assumed was shot dead, said Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
Thomas Alexander, 66, was an experienced hunter who had lived in the Yellville, Arkansas, area for several years, Stephens said. He was hunting Tuesday in the nearby Ozark Mountains using a primitive firearm known as a muzzleloader, according to Stephens, and called a family member at 6:30 p.m. to tell them he had successfully shot a buck.
But the timeline of events becomes less clear after that.
Stephens isn’t sure if Alexander, a licensed hunter, immediately left his deer stand or waited before approaching the buck. Muzzleloader season runs from Oct. 19-27, Stephens said — but regardless of the firearm, the commission recommends waiting at least 30 minutes to ensure a shot deer is actually dead.
“He may have done that, but evidently the deer wasn’t dead,” Stephens said. “They found several puncture wounds on him at the hospital — the assumption is the deer gored him with his antlers.”
Alexander called another family member about 8 p.m. to report he was injured, Stephens said. That family member alerted 911, but Alexander died of his injuries en route to the hospital. Stephens said no autopsy is planned at this time.
The Game and Fish Commission sent at least two dogs out Wednesday in hopes of tracking down the buck, which is believed to still be alive, Stephens said. The search was set to continue Thursday, but heavy rainfall in the area has hampered the effort.
Stephens said hunters are advised to wait at least 30 minutes because even if a deer appears slain, there’s a chance it may be dazed instead. He cited a 2016 incident in which a hunter in Ashley County, in South Arkansas, was gored on the inside of his leg after going near a deer he thought was dead.
That man survived the attack, Stephens said — but both incidents serve as a reminder for hunters to be as cautious as possible when handling a potential kill.
“During our hunter education classes we explain the best thing to do is approach it from behind,” he said. “If you go behind them, it can buy you a few seconds because they have to roll over to kick you.”